Trump has been using Young’s music at campaign rallies since his 2015, when Young’s 1989 hit “Rockin ‘in the Free World” was played at the announcement of Trump’s presidential candidacy. At the time, Young, who was a strong supporter of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, told reporters that Trump was not allowed to use his music. Trump’s campaign was reportedly licensed.
This track as well as “Devil’s Sidewalk” from Young’s 2003 album Crazy Horse, Greendale, are cited in the lawsuit as songs that have been performed “many times at political rallies and events for the entertainment and amusement of those who attend those political rallies and events.” Both songs were played as recently as June 20, 2020, at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In February, Young wrote an open letter to Trump, telling him he was “a disgrace to my country.” In July, he followed up with another letter calling on the president for repeatedly using his music “without regard for my rights, even calling me names on Twitter.” He ended this note by saying, “Because you are in charge of the Covid 19 response here in the United States, I will not sue you (as is certainly my right) to potentially distract you from your important work at the hand to protect and save American lives. ”
The lawsuit also states that “this complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support any candidate they choose.”
Young seeks “damages in the maximum amount allowed for willful copyright infringement.”